It’s one of the most dangerous jobs in forestry but two of Dorset’s youngest tree surgeons wouldn’t swap their sky-high office for any other occupation.
Where machines can’t go, humans must. Close to overhead power lines, near roads and buildings, handling a chainsaw 60 feet up in the air and ensuring nearby public are safe is all in a day’s high-rise work for Jack Spencer, 24, from Ashmore and Jake Moore, 23 from Gillingham.
Just ten months ago these two young men launched Felltec Tree Services, near Shaftesbury, combining their love of forestry with expert tree-felling skills. Jack had previously worked for an environmental company managing river habitats throughout the county.
Jake, a former Sparsholt College student, had six years in a forestry role on some of Dorset’s largest private country estates.
As the impact of ash die-back took its toll on hundreds of trees across Dorset, Jake and Jack came to work together at Ashmore Estate, felling many trees that were dead or dying.
Today, much of their work is still in the woodlands of this beautiful estate and they also offer their tree-felling services across the county to anyone with gardens big or small. Jack said:
“We are so fortunate to work in some of the most beautiful settings in Dorset. There really is no better office than at the top of a tree. You get the privilege of a birds-eye view. Up high the whole landscape changes before your eyes.
Sometimes I have to remind myself I’m working and not just up there enjoying the countryside.”
That office can even become a skyscraper, with their tallest tree to date a 90ft beech that needed a haircut.
And what about when the wind blows? “That’s a challenge, especially if we’re dealing with WASP (Willow, Ash, Sycamore, Poplar) as these trees are brittle and can crack easily in wind and cold temperatures.” explained Jack.
As well as a stoical head for heights, Jake always had a passion for the countryside, enthusiastically climbing trees as a young boy and also growing his own trees. “As early as pre-school, I would find saplings growing under trees and take them home and plant them up in pots. Eighteen years on, I’ve still got some of them in my garden in much larger pots now.”
It’s clear as you chat to both men that they not only adore what they do but also have a deep respect for trees.
Both declare their favourite tree to be the English oak “because you can do so much with the wood and it’s such a strong tree. It’s fantastic to look at and so good for the environment, providing a habitat for so many insects and birds.
“Tree surgery is not just about taking trees down, it’s about protecting them too,” explained Jake. “A lot of the job is about removing deadwood, helping their longevity and planting new ones. It’s great to be working on planting new woodlands that wildlife and generations to come will be able to enjoy.”
Do they worry about just how dangerous their work is?
“Our girlfriends do. They don’t like to watch us at work.” said Jack. But both men are confident in their teamwork. “We did an intensive climbing course and before you could touch a chainsaw, you first had to learn how to access the tree with a rope and how to rescue an injured climber,” he explained.
The men have also mastered the vital art of communicating through hand signals. Jake said: “We always carry out a briefing and risk assessment before we climb. But even with a firm plan in place things can change at a moment’s notice.
“When you work together closely and your lives depend on each other, it’s amazing how quickly unspoken communication develops – important when one of you is on the ground and one swinging 60 feet up in the air above!”
Check out Felltec Tree Services on Instagram felltectreeservices
For tree surgery quotes contact Jack Spencer 07758262673 or Jake Moore 07592375431
Tree Facts you’ll love:
- The UK has the largest concentration of ancient trees in Northern Europe
- The oldest tree in the UK – possibly Europe – is believed to be the Fortingall Yew near Aberfeldy in Scotland, thought to be 5,000 years old
- Wyndham’s Oak, near Silton, is up to 1,000 years old, and is the oldest tree in Dorset.
- A sweet chestnut in the grounds of Canford School near Wimborne is thought to be the widest, with a girth of almost 15m
- You can see a map of Dorset’s Monumental trees here.
By: Tracie Beardsley